Monday, 21 January, 2019

Google fined $21mn by Indian antitrust watchdog

Mike Blake  Reuters Mike Blake Reuters
Sherri Watson | 09 February, 2018, 04:28

India's competition enforcer said Thursday that it has fined search giant Google 1.36 billion rupees ($21.1 million) for abusing its dominant position in the markets for general online search and search advertising services in the country.

CCI found that the "disproportionate real-estate" given to the flight unit unfairly pushed down or pushed out other travel sites in India that relied on search engines to reach shoppers, it said in a 190-page order (pdf).

The ruling brings an end to an investigation which was launched by the watchdog in 2012, following complaints filed by matchmaking website Bharat Matrimony and the not-for-profit organization Consumer and Trust Society (CUTS).

USA internet giant Google was deemed to have favoured its own services when customers ran searches, according to a report from the Competition Commission of India (CCI) six years after it began investigations into the company.

For this case, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) considered markets in India for online general web search services and for online search advertising services as the relevant ones.

The Google spokesperson said the company has always focused on innovating to support the evolving needs of users.

A Google spokesperson reportedly said that the company was reviewing the "narrow concerns" identified by the Commission, and was assessing its next steps.

"The CCI has confirmed that, on the majority of issues it examined, our conduct complies with Indian competition laws".

Further, prohibitions imposed under the negotiated search intermediation agreements upon the publishers have been held to be unfair as they restricted the choice of these partners and prevented them from using the search services provided by competing for search engines.

The Indian watchdog's order is the latest antitrust setback for Google.

The order said the company had 60 days to pay the fine for "for infringing anti-trust conduct".

"Whilst finding Google to have abused its dominant position, the CCI has nonetheless exercised restraint in recognising the dynamic nature of online markets and not found Google guilty of every allegation", Chopra told Reuters. The competitors were denied access to the online search syndication services market due to such a conduct.